I have been struggling with that question as I am preparing for my upcoming speech at NEHA in a few weeks.
As most know, Upton Sinclair’ 1906 novel, “The Jungle,” was intended to expose the exploitation of the workers in the Chicago packing houses, but became a best seller because it exposed the underbelly of the turn-of-the-century beef industry. Sinclair famously noted the impact of his book by stating, “I aimed at the public’s heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach.” In fact, he felt his book was popular, “not because the public cared anything about the workers, but simply because the public did not want to eat tubercular beef.” Interesting little video on the history:
In another interesting bit(e) of history, I found that the major meat packers were eventually the main lobbyists with Congress to pass legislation paying for inspection and certification of meat packaged in the United States (with our tax dollars) as opposed to simply legislating enforceable standards. The packer pressure, coupled with the public outcry, led to the passage of the Federal Meat Inspection Act. Where for the most part, we still are today. Well, back to speech writing.